Why do you love drinking Kasteel Cuvée? "It's pleasantly sweet for a heavy dark beer", some will say. Others will reply, “I truly enjoy its exclusive flavour." “A beer to be enjoyed to the full!”, is another enthusiastic reaction. When we put that same question to Hans Mehuys and Stijn Van Laere, Master Brewers at Kasteel Brouwerij Vanhonsebrouck, we get an answer that is entirely in line with the reactions of consumers. Time for a good chat about this unique speciality beer!
Hans Mehuys and Stijn Van Laere take a seat in the elegant tasting area, right next to the Beer Boutique. “This is where you can taste our specialty beers after a visit to the brewery. Our guide also takes the time to answer any questions our visitors may have or to share some fun facts,” says Hans while Stijn puts a bottle of Kasteel Donker on the table.
Hans takes the bottle and looks at the label, which says “Brewed in 2011”. That’s exactly ten years ago. He opens the bottle and pours 2 glasses. Hans makes the beer swirl around in the glass like you do with a glass of wine.
“When the famous beer sommelier Ben Vinken first tasted our Kasteel Cuvée , he instantly compared it to wine. If you were to compare beer with wine, Kasteel Cuvée would be close to a Burgundy or a heavy Médoc”, Stijn says.
The Master Brewers taste the beer. The flavour palette is characterised by notes of madeira and port. “About twelve years ago, I was strolling through the cellars ofIngelmunster Castlewith Xavier Vanhonsebrouck, now the fifth generation of our brewers’ family. This castle inspired the late Luc Vanhonsebrouck to brew Kasteel Donker. In the cellars, we found bottles of Kasteel Donker that had been maturing for about ten years. We openden een fles en kregen dit fantastische smaakpalet voorgeschoteld. We opened a bottle and were presented with this fantastic palette of flavours. That immediately made me curious for more!”
Beer & gastronomy
When Xavier and Hans tasted the ten-year-old Kasteel Donker, the CEO was already toying with the idea of brewing a gastronomic beer. “Back in 2009, specialty beers had started to become more and more popular in gastronomy. A legendary beer brand like Kasteelbier simply had to jump on the bandwagon,” Hans explains.
And so it did. Once they had tasted the old Kasteel Donker, Xavier and his Master Brewer set to work on the new beer. “For our Kasteel Cuvée we use the same ingredients as for Kasteel Donker”, Stijn explains, while taking a bottle of Kasteel Cuvée. He explains that the special brewing process gives the beer its unique port-like taste. What exactly is the secret? “That secret remains with the brewer”,the Master Brewer answers with a wink while he pours two glasses.
Hans and Stijn taste the beer again. It is instantly clear that Kasteel Cuvée is less sweet than Kasteel Donker. Cuvée has an alcoholpercentage of 11 degrees, which makes it a specialty beer you should take your time for. “Our CEO once said that he truly enjoys a glass of Kasteel Cuvée after a day’s work. And I think he’s not the only one. It gives you a moment to put everything into perspective,” says Hans.
With a glass of Cuvée in your hand, you feel like a king. We want to give everyone that lush feeling.
At table with Cuvée
After the tasting, the duo heads to the Beer Boutique. The other Kasteel beers, including Kasteel Rouge and Kasteel Tripel, are neatly displayed next to other specialty beers like Filou, Brigand and Bacchus. “Stijn, would you like a beer praline?” Hans is standing in front of the refrigerated counter where the famous beer pralines of Kasteel Brouwerij Vanhonsebrouck are displayed. “Now we have to taste one with a filling of Kasteel Cuvée,” Stijn laughs.
Before they go back to the tasting area, Stijn grabs the book ‘Bierstronomie’. He flips through the book to the chapter about the family brewery from Izegem and shows Hans the recipe for rabbit à la Flamande. “Prepared with Kasteel Cuvée, a heavenly combination!”
Hans also shares a few food pairing tips: “I can’t imagine a game season anymore without Kasteel Cuvée. Our tasting beer also goes well with organ meats, lamb ragout and cheeses with a lot of body and flavour.”
King of the Castle
In 2010 Xavier Vanhonsebrouck had a single goal: to brew a gastronomic beer. And with this Kasteelbier he definitely succeeded. “With a glass of Cuvée in your hand, you feel like a king. We want to give everyone that lush feeling”, Stijn concludes.
We’re curious to know who you are planning to crown King of the Castle with Kasteel Cuvée!
Cooking with Kasteel Cuvée
Rabbit à la Flamande with Kasteel Cuvée
2 rabbit loins
4 large rabbit legs
2 boxes of mushrooms
2 large white onions
400 g smoked bacon
400 g pearl onions
2 litres Kasteel Cuvée
4 bay leaves
5 juniper berries
250 g butter
100 g wholegrain mustard
10 cl vinegar
Pepper & salt
Cut the rabbit loins into four pieces. Coat the legs and the loins in the flour. Also cut the mushrooms into four pieces and the bacon into cubes of about one centimetre each.
Fry the mushrooms, bacon and pearl onions together in a large, low casserole pan. Once they have turned golden brown, take them out of the casserole pan.
Then fry the rabbit in the butter in the same pan until lightly brown. Then add the bacon, mushrooms and pearl onions, and pour the chilled Kasteel Cuvée over them. Make sure all the ingredients are covered with the beer.
Add the bay leaf and juniper berries, and simmer for about 45 minutes. Once the rabbit is cooked, remove all the ingredients from the pan and thicken the sauce. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, and add the wholegrain mustard and a dash of vinegar to taste.